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HOA asks city for help with proposed development

Monday, April 13, 2015 by Elizabeth Pagano

A planned development may be smack-dab in the middle of a neighborhood, but Zoning and Platting Commissioners — and the city — prefer to stay out of it.

Residents told commissioners that they were concerned that a newly proposed southeast Austin development may not meet the standards established by their neighborhood, despite being surrounded by their subdivision. There was some discussion about how the McKinney Heights Homeowners Association could impose regulations on the development, but ultimately it would have to work out those terms in a private agreement with the developers.

The property, at 7864 Thaxton Road and 6218 Bumpstead Drive, is surrounded by a residential subdivision, and the surrounding properties are all zoned single family (SF-2). Developers are seeking a zoning change for their project to SF-3. The property is currently zoned Interim Rural Residential.

After hearing from neighbors, the Zoning and Platting Commission voted to recommend the less-intense SF-2 zoning. Commissioners voted 5-0, with Chair Betty Baker and Sean Compton absent.

Commissioner Rahm McDaniel seconded the motion for the SF-2 and spoke against the idea that Austin should be building dense, affordable housing in outskirts of the city instead of in the central city.

“I’m concerned about that view because I think that it leads us to this point, where we are putting dense residential development theoretically in the middle of areas that are already affordable and perpetuating the cycle of what ultimately leads to gentrification,” said McDaniel.

If approved by City Council, SF-3 zoning would allow construction of single-family homes with an additional, small residence in the back, as well as duplexes. Noting that there are similarly zoned lots in the area, Planning and Zoning Department staff is recommending the change.

However, the subdivision that surrounds the land is not as supportive. The HOA is concerned that the development will not be subject to its regulations, because the land is not part of the subdivision.

Eric Crisp spoke on behalf of the developers. He said he had hoped to work with the HOA and met with its members in December of last year. He said they had no issues with the plan at that time, and he only learned of their opposition a few days before the meeting. Crisp pointed out that had the developers known about the opposition in advance, they might have worked out an alternative.

HOA President Michael Bullock said the association understood that the developers planned to build flag lots, not duplexes, when they spoke with Crisp in December. Bullock explained that because HOA members surround the property, they thought the development should comply with their architectural standards.

“We have absolutely no problem with them developing the land, so long as it is consistent with the rest of the neighborhood,” said Bullock.

Bullock added that, at the time, the HOA had some concerns, but there was not enough detail in the plan then to spark outright, immediate opposition. Further complicating the process, the HOA received no rezoning notice (despite owning adjacent property), Bullock said, and the posted rezoning sign on the property had been broken off and thrown on the ground.

Bullock also pointed out that, within the HOA, there was no SF-3 zoning and no duplexes.

“Yes, we do get hung up on the duplex stuff, but that is a significant factor to a lot of residents,” said Bullock. He explained that they had been working hard to eliminate criminal activity in nearby duplexes, and people were “worried that changing the property types too much in our neighborhood” would bring crime.

When asked whether the HOA restrictions were reasonable, Bullock said he believed they were.

“We don’t approve things like painting your house pink or very radical colors,” said Bullock. “But, in general, it’s just keeping your lawn cut and general maintenance and upkeep.”

Crisp reminded commissioners and neighbors that the development was still in the early stages.

“We don’t have a design at this time,” said Crisp. “We are just going for a zoning change at this point, and then we will design a project.”


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